Did Disney’s “Reflect” fail at plus-size representation?

Luna Infante, Contributor

Disney has officially presented its first plus-size female lead in the short “Reflect,” which debuted on the Disney+ show “Short Circuit.” The film centers around Bianca, a young ballerina, and her struggles with body image. Although the short was released in September of this year, it has become a trending topic on various social media platforms recently. There have been mixed reactions from the public regarding this film. Many watchers are ecstatic, celebrating Disney’s milestone in diversifying the representation of lead characters; however, there has also been backlash following the short’s release, many worrying that Disney failed to properly showcase plus-size representation by centering the film around the main character’s weight.

For years, Disney has attempted to diversify its characters; however, there have been many missteps in this process. Three times, Disney has failed to represent Black leading characters properly. In the films “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” and “Spies in Disguise,” Disney interrupted their attempt at showcasing diversity by dehumanizing their Black leads. In all three films, the Black leads spend more than half of their screen time in differing inhuman forms. One turned into a green frog, one became a blue ghost and one transformed into a pigeon. These depictions are prime examples of Disney’s failure to truly include and represent more diversity. This is done yet again in the “Reflect” short film. Although creating a plus-size lead was a step in the right direction, the character’s struggle centers around her weight. If Disney wants to truly be progressive in including different body types, it should create a film featuring a plus-size lead with a story plot that does not center around their body weight. 

Disney’s “Reflect” was a film with a positive tone, and the message it delivered was inspirational. The film demonstrates that insecurity and self-doubt should not stop someone from living their life. At the end of the film, Bianca overcomes her negative feelings and dances happily. 

Although this short was encouraging and sent a positive message, and some supporters felt it set a good precedent, it still fell short in properly exhibiting diversity through its lead character. To truly bring diverse characters into the spotlight, Disney needs to improve their plots and storylines. There needs to be more diversity in representation, and Disney has the ability and platform to create films to bring that diversity to the screen. When will all of our differences finally be celebrated properly? When will everyone feel represented on the big screen?